Reports as far back as 1994, (hey the web is young), postulate the efficacy of the all powerful Banner Ad.
Or is it?
Hits, clicks, click-throughs, size, colors, page employment of banners and now, the ‘do.it.all.banner’ spun by a Java applet, have all been tested. The results legitimize the psychological mind-set of the average surfer. "I want what I want that makes me happy, right now!" The Web can and does provide immediate gratification and marketers know this. But, what is the best way? Banner Ads?
The web viewers and apparent shoppers are the baby boomers, in their 30’s and 40’s whom are purportedly gadget oriented, avid technology consumers. Yet, they still carry traditional ideations about their social and cultural orientations. From that package evolved the hedonism of commercial advertising, and the psychology of impulsive shopping.
So, what is the sum and substance of banner gadgetry that will get the viewers to ‘CLICK HERE’?
A report conducted by Bates USA, a New York-based ad agency, found that respondents of their study would be more than likely to click on an ad to get more information.
Another study by I/Pro Research and DoubleClick found that an average of 2.11% of web surfers viewing an ad banner will click on it. CyberAtlas.
OK. Sounds good so far...
To calculate the cost of actually securing an order a company must also evaluate the mind-set of the individual web surfer with regard to the success of web advertising. Companies are already spending billions on research, advertising, and bleeding edge site designs to attract the surfer. For banner ads alone it will cost a company approximately "5 to 7 cents per page impression, which translates to a CPM (cost per thousand) of $50 to $70" as stated in: ‘Using Banner Ads to Promote Your Web Site’ by: Dr. Ralph F. Wilson.
That’s a lot of money to spend on an ad...
Monitoring click-throughs for these services: Infoseek, 1.1%; WebCrawler, 0.7%; HotWired, 2.8%; Mr. ShowBiz, 1.5% indicates how many people are actually ‘clicking here’. Tightly targeted sites might bring click rates of 8%, 13% or higher. And after the user has seen the banner one or two times, the urge to mouseover fades into obscurity. DoubleClick indicated that response rates can drop by one-half from the second to third time someone sees an ad.
The success of a click-through is also relevant to where and what page the banner ad is placed. According to another study, banner ads on the first page of a site resulted in a low click rate... apparently, they want to learn what else is at that site.
Then again, a recent study by San Francisco based Internet Profiles Corp. and DoubleClick reported emphasis on impact over design beauty. Adding "click here" raises response rate by 18% and using tested colors such as blue, green and yellow work best. Animation improves response rates at least 25% and... DoubleClick.
For the HotWired site, a HotWired Advertising Effectiveness Study used the same 'rigorous metrics' to assess the effectiveness of banner ads on the web as of print and television advertising. They "accurately tested the communication impact of a single advertising impression generated by an ad banner, regardless of ability to garner click-through." The results: "Banner ads do make a significant impact on the viewer regardless of whether the viewer clicks-through. Every ad impression is important." Just like the ads on the side of a bus! HotWired
This information sounds encouraging!
So, what does that company do with their wonderful_banner_that_took_a_graphic-designer_four_months_to_design.gif? The solutions: Rotate those banners!
Update the colors, cryptic messages, ask questions that the user feels warrants a response. All in the hopes that the same or differently targeted group will ‘CLICK HERE’.
And out of the jumble of studies, research, surveys, and trial and error, in an attempt to secure an order, banner ads do seem to do the trick. Albeit, only 2% out of the 8% that do surf the Web are ‘CLICKING HERE’.
The epitome of impulsive shopping on the Web:
Viola, the Java banner ad! How convenient. Just mouseover, get information, fill in a form, and purchase. All neatly packed inside an approximately 480 x 60 space. Talk about targeting an audience! The art of hedonistic commercial advertising, and the psychology of impulsive shopping all in a neat bundle! I must admit, I did click to learn. I will remember that ad too, just like the ones I see on the sides of buses. And, in the future, I hope the product I choose is as technically advanced as the ad.
OK, so only a fraction of all viewers click on the banners they see. But is the web any different to the viewers than traditional advertising? When that same viewer sees an ad on the side of a bus, does he/she run over to the bus and touch the ad? Or better yet, get on that bus to go to where the ad indicates? No. Later they might. And that’s what advertising is all about. Attracting the psychology of impulsive shopping. Levi wants you to remember them so the next time you want, wish, need or desire jeans, you’ll buy their product.
People aren’t on the web to shop...not completely. They’re still surfing for information...including what kind of gadgets companies offer on the web. The mind-set of the user remains the same. They want to tap into resources as well as be entertained. They still hesitate just long enough to turn the page. Luckily, they can go back.
The rules of advertising don’t change just because it’s the Web. The Web does promise to be a key and unique marketing tool as it continues to enter the mainstream. In the end, with all the data in, companies are finding it easier to target what the surfer wants. And banner ads are an integral tool to that end. So, go ahead, leave your legacy on the banner scene!